Exploring Development Issues on Prime-time TV in Africa

Oct 152013

A new two-part series on Kenya’s Citizen News TV takes viewers deep into war-ravaged Somalia. But instead of focusing on politics or terrorism, reporter Alex Chamwada and cameraman Moses Mwakisha focused on a lesser-known activity in the country: large-scale farming and its impact on food security.

“Somalia’s Food Basket,” which earned a prime-time slot on the popular channel, is one of 20 stories about agriculture and food security that were produced as part of the African Story Challenge, a two-year, $1 million program of reporting grants for investigative, digital and data-driven stories on key African health and development issues. The African Media Initiative (AMI) launched the contest in May with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the African Development Bank and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

“In Africa, there’s a kind of frustration or disconnect between what people want to hear and what gets published,” says Joseph Warungu, a recent ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow, who is helping lead the contest for AMI. “The media is focused on covering politics, but when you ask ordinary people in any country [in Africa] their priorities, they’ll say health, security, water.”

Editors and media operators often argue that reporting on development issues requires effort and resources that simply aren’t available. So the challenge is giving reporters grants of US$2,000 to US$20,000, as well as training and mentorship to help them refine their ideas.

Read the full post on IJNet.

The International Journalists' Network, IJNet, keeps professional and citizen journalists up to date on the latest media innovations, online journalism resources, training opportunities and expert advice. ICFJ produces IJNet in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. IJNet is supported by donors including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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